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New Scientist: Rethink what makes humans special

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THE SECRET OF OUR SUCCESS by Joseph HenrichIn fact, it’s unlikely that people at New Scientist are going to do much of that themselves; it sounds more like a message intended for Everyone Else.

Reviewing two new books for the Christmas trade, CultureLab:

WITH the year drawing to a close, it’s time to throw out old ideas and bring in the new. Two mind-stretching books, The Secret of our Success by anthropologist Joseph Henrich, and The Crucible of Language by cognitive linguist Vyvyan Evans, will help you do just that.

Both contain powerful ideas. The first forces a rethink of what makes humans special: the answer is not that we are terribly clever or able to do much with our big brains on our own. The second tackles one of the hard problems of science: how it is that language actually means something and can excite our deepest passions.

The two books reflect the same broad trend. Overly simple ideas of “modular”, innate human capabilities are fading away – whether of human nature as a toolkit of skills evolved for the key problems we faced during our long ancestry as hunter-gatherers, or of language as an instinct, with a universal grammar encoded in our genes. More.

That would be news indeed if naturalists like the New Scientist types were not so likely to just replace the old false-isms with new ones.

See also: What can we hope to learn about the human mind

What can we hope to learn about animal minds?

and

Are apes entering the Stone Age?

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2 Replies to “New Scientist: Rethink what makes humans special

  1. 1
    bornagain says:

    this guy is pretty special

    Danny MacAskill – Cascadia
    http://www.imbikemag.com/mount.....-cascadia/

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    Its Christmas. God thought we were so special he came in the body of one of us. In fact we are made in Gods image. Rejecting we are special is rejecting this. A aggressive assertion by who the hell who.
    We are also special because we are so intelligent and can be more. Nothing to do with the brain concept. Animals are dumb as can be.
    Animals never reflect on whether they are special. Thats why they are not.

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